The Christian season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021), is a 40-day season of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter (April 4, 2021). (Sundays are always feast days and are not included in the 40 days of Lent.) For centuries, Christians have been using Lent to reflect on their need for God’s saving grace and to intentionally practice Spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading and study, fasting, worship, sacrificial giving, and service.
As you embark on your Lenten journey, I hope you will make time to observe Lent by setting aside time to nurture your relationship with God. At Trinity, you will have weekly opportunities to reflect on the gift of God’s grace offered through Jesus Christ and deepen your relationship with God. We’ll be preaching a series of sermons and I’ll be offering a companion discipleship study called, Teach Us To Pray. In the sermons and the study, we will use the example and teaching of Jesus in The Gospel According to Luke to learn how to pray – or to grow in our ability to pray. One of the things we’ll discover is that there are more examples of Jesus praying in Luke’s Gospel than the other three combined. Jesus set an example for his disciples to follow. There are important lessons to learn. That’s why I’m going to challenge the entire Trinity Church family to read the whole of the Gospel as we worship and study together.
In the coming weeks, our online worship will continue, including an online Ash Wednesday service, as we look forward to gathering in-person. Look for details about Ash Wednesday and other services, programs, and events in upcoming bulletins and weekly announcements. I hope that you will join us for worship and for the study, but even if you are not able to attend a single activity, I hope you will make your relationship with God a priority in your life. Make time every day to connect with God in silence, solitude, and stillness. Read the Gospel. Think about the people in need—in our church, community, and around the world—and prayerfully offer some of your time and resources to help them. The five (5) commitments we make as members of the Body of Christ will change your life if you let them: worship, grow, service, share, and give. Keeping those commitments is a wonderful way to observe a Holy Lent.
It will soon be time for a new season to begin. But don’t go looking for a greeting card or suggested Amazon gift list. There are no movies on the Hallmark Channel romanticizing it. No, there is no hype surrounding Lent. However, millions of Christians, in many different denominations all around the world, observe this liturgical season of preparation. Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 17 this year, lasting forty days (plus Sundays). When Lent has finished, the joy of Easter begins.
Lent doesn’t have the feel-good decorations or cookies that Advent and Christmas claim. You won’t find a seasonal scent dedicated to it at the Yankee Candle outlet. It doesn’t have the bold sounds of Easter’s Hallelujah Chorus. For many people, the only thing they can tell you about Lent is that it’s the time when you give up something: maybe chocolate, coffee, or shopping online. Those are some of the biggies. But I would argue this is the very reason why we should turn our eyes toward Lent, when what we really want to do is look away. Lent asks much of us.
For those who observe Lent, it can be a time of fasting. This is a nod to Jesus’ fasting when he spent forty days in the wilderness. Sopping wet from the baptismal waters of the Jordan River —with a divine voice still ringing in his ears, “You are my Son, the Beloved”—Jesus found himself both full of and led by the very Spirit of God. We read in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. He may have self-exiled from family and friends, but he was not alone. We read where he was tempted by evil; a scripture-quoting Satan tries three different times to tempt Jesus. It is after the final test that Matthew says the devil departed from Jesus “until an opportune time.” Very ominous. All of this took place just prior to the start of his ministry; it was a ministry that would not only change the world but also lead him to the cross.
It’s becoming more clear why Lent isn’t marketed as the feel-good season of the year, isn’t it? But before you are ready to spiritually sit out this time and set your eyes toward Easter, please let me ask a few questions. Have you ever found yourself in a wilderness? Was there ever a time you felt exhausted, alone, and even tempted? Sometimes our temptations come in the form of money, food, power, alcohol, drugs; the list is endless. There is good news, beloved. Jesus, our God-come-to-earth, has willingly walked into the wilderness, done battle with what is not of God, and can truly feel your pain. Jesus is now willing to walk into your wilderness today, in order to relieve whatever pain plagues you.
We walk through Lent, knowing what is on the other side: an empty tomb, a resurrected Lord, and the promise of a new life through Christ. Lent helps us get there. Our self-reflection of this season is not always easy, but as Christians we know who we are and whose we are. We are Easter people.
It’s a new year and I pray all things are well with you. Even though we have experienced difficulties in 2020, I am grateful for all the ways God comforted and guided us through it. Furthermore, I pray God continues to be merciful in guiding and helping us through 2021!
As staff, we decided to make Ash Wednesday meaningful for the congregation. One of the ways is to hand out individual ash packets for the congregation. Plus, we will prepare an online service that will be meaningful for all family members. I ask the youth group, confirmation class and families in children’s education to participate in the Ash Wednesday service this year. Because this service is usually in the middle of the week, many families with children or youth could not participate. However, this year we want to utilize this opportunity to introduce the Ash Wednesday service to all ages. Ash Wednesday is on Feb. 17 this year, and we will be distributing the packets on Feb. 14. We will share more info in the future.
We are in the planning stages, but we hope to offer two outdoor worship services on Easter Sunday. There will be one for the Sunrise Service and another one for the morning. The important thing is that we want to gather to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. It should be quite a celebration. Look for more announcements as we get closer to Easter, April 4. I would like to ask all families with youth and children to participate if they’re able. Also I would like volunteers from youth to help with setup and break down. This event will serve Trinity members who have been longing to be with one another. Therefore, we would need many volunteers to put this together. Please consider volunteering for this wonderful occasion. The Lord is Risen!
Possible Easter Egg Hunt
Last year due to Covid restrictions we could not hold the annual Easter Egg Hunt. This year I’m thinking about holding one when we have Communion and Palm Leaves drive-thru the week before Holy Week. In order to put that together, we need your help! We definitely need someone to be the Easter Bunny. If you want to be a celebrity for a day, this is it! Most volunteers in the past shared with me the thrill of kids coming up to them and being treated as someone special. Also we need volunteers to plan and execute a safe and memorable Easter Egg Hunt. Please contact me via email (email@example.com) or phone (703-356-3312, ext 117).
With the continued rise in Coronavirus cases, we are continuing to offer worship and other ministries online. See below for those options. As the weather warms and more people are vaccinated, our pastors will consider some outdoor in-person worship opportunities. While we miss worshiping in-person together, we feel it is our calling to ensure the healthy and safety of all persons.
Lent—Holy Week—Easter 2021
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